How Natural Born Multimillionaires Feel About Change

In the Jan. 16 issue of the Michael Masterson Journal, I said that the average person is resistant to change, whereas the natural-born multimillionaire (NBMM) embraces it.

That was simplistic.

In fact, most people — intelligent or otherwise — are resistant to change. That’s because the instinct to distrust change is encoded deep in our DNA.

But our reluctance to change is also a matter of logic. Change creates confusion and confusion creates extra work and extra work creates stress. And stress is both unpleasant and unhealthy.

So why did I say that the average mind resists change while the mind of the multimillionaire embraces it?

Let me tell you a story…

Ten or 12 years ago, when half of the bestselling nonfiction books were about the Internet, some of the smartest young executives in my largest client’s company came to him with a plan. They wanted to “revolutionize” the business by taking it online and changing from a direct-marketing based model to an advertising based model.

He listened carefully to their proposal. He was excited about the prospects that the new medium offered and was happy that his people were brimming with ideas. But as they detailed their plan, he got a gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach.

“It’s an interesting approach,” he said when they finished their PowerPoint presentation. “But I don’t really understand how that would be profitable.”

There were eight profit center managers in the room. And most of them had worked with my client long enough to know that they couldn’t take his words literally. They knew that what he meant was, “That sounds like the craziest idea I’ve heard in a long time.”

But one of them did take him literally, and went about setting up an online profit center based on an advertising model. He spent millions of dollars and more than three years on it.

Meanwhile, my client started an online newsletter.  But it was based on the old model he knew, direct marketing — and guess what? It gradually became a $20 million business and is, today, a core part of a $50+ million online publishing franchise.

Now if I ended the story here, you might suppose that the point of it is that it is wise to resist change. Indeed, it is natural and wise to resist change, but it is dumb to refuse it. There is a big difference between resisting change and refusing it. And that difference is the difference between an average person and a NBMM.

This will be clear when you hear the rest of the story…

In making the comment he did, my client discouraged seven of the profit center managers who were present from moving to an advertising based model. But he did not try to dissuade the eighth one from pursuing the new idea. On the contrary, he encouraged him to try. He knew that if seven-eighths of his business stuck with what they knew, the company could sustain a loss if the new idea failed completely. Which it did.

In other words, he was hedging his bets. Seven parts resisting change. One part welcoming it. That’s how a NBMM thinks.

Here’s a follow-up story…

Several years later, my client had the opportunity to buy a financial magazine published in England that was struggling at the time. Magazines are advertising based. Normally, he wouldn’t be interested. But with this one, he thought he could reinvent the modern magazine. So, against all odds, he bought the publication and reinvented it by creating an online feeder to it and using direct-marketing techniques to sell backend products.

The result? Five years later, it is the most successful financial magazine in London.

Those two stories are a good illustration of what I’m trying to explain today: the difference between how change affects an average person and how it affects a NBMM.

It’s not that the NBMM is NOT resistant to change. It’s that he is willing to embrace it when he sees the benefit in doing so.

But there’s another thing.

The NBMM doesn’t jump at every opportunity he sees. He doesn’t automatically embrace change just because it might offer him a benefit. No. The NBMM is more practical than that. His chances of benefitting have to be good.

In my client’s case, he was willing to take a chance on the idea of an advertising based online business, but only if seven out of eight of his profit center managers were doing things the traditional way. Seven out of eight is about 85 percent. In other words, he was willing to risk only 15 percent of his resources on this new idea.

What are the payoffs for the NBMM?

There are two: money and ego gratification.

This is an important point. NBMMs are not completely or even deeply motivated by money. The real payoff for them is the feeling of accomplishment they get when they do something new and prove to the world that they have what it takes to be successful.

Most successful people will not admit to that, but it’s true.

So now, let’s get back to what I said about the average person being resistant to change, while the NBMM embraces it. And let’s try to say something less simplistic and more useful about the way a NBMM thinks…

The average person resists change completely because all it represents to him is extra work and stress. But the NBMM sees through the stress and work to the potential reward at the end: a financial and emotional bonanza.

Examples of people and companies and industries that resisted change and lost are too numerous to mention. Detroit automakers are the most obvious example. But it has also been the story (and the fate) of book publishers and newspapers and magazines — with the notable exception of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, both of which made an intelligent, well-calculated move to the Internet when the opportunity presented itself.

That is the key to thinking like a NBMM. You have to know when to resist change and when to welcome it. For me, it’s a matter of how far away you are willing to go from what you know.

The average person doesn’t want to go any further than he is forced to go. The would-be entrepreneur is willing to go far afield — to try things he knows nothing about. But the NBMM goes only one step further than he can see. I call it the one-step-removed principle.

Here’s what I say about it in my book Ready, Fire, Aim:

“When developing new products, you don’t want to make the mistake of investing in something that is two or more steps away from what you know how to do.

“That’s because your chances of success decrease geometrically with each step. Take one step, and you are fine. Two steps, and you are on thin ice. Three steps, and you are up to your neck in very cold water.

“There are simply too many things you don’t know about it… too many inside secrets that are blocked from your view.

“It is possible, of course, to succeed with a product that is wildly different from one you’re selling now. It’s just highly unlikely. Successful entrepreneurs take calculated risks — i.e., they act only when their calculations suggest they have a good chance of winning.”

To think like a NBMM, you have to trust your instinct against change — but you must also train yourself to see change as having the potential for financial and emotional gratification.

You have to be able to calculate the odds of achieving the goal and calculate the financial payoff. And you have to be able to imagine how good you’ll feel when all the naysayers (and there are always more naysayers than supporters) have to eat humble pie.

As Robert Ringer put it in his book Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves:

“No one can foresee every problem and know, in advance, how to resolve it. The reality is all start-ups are dysfunctional…. If you’re waiting for everything to be just right before taking action, you are in possession of a foolproof excuse for failure. Don’t fear change; embrace it as one of the most exciting aspects of life.”

I have just completed a 203-page book on change. It was written specifically from this perspective: What does it take to change yourself from an average person to a NBMM?

The book provides a blueprint for master planning your new life. It tells you exactly how you can go from where you are now to where you want to be. None of it is bravado or hype. It is all based on my own experiences and the experiences of NBMMs I’ve worked with.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]